Low Carbohydrate Diets and Weight Loss

Even today, people still wonder whether they need to follow low carbohydrate diets in order to lose weight. Should they cut all the fat from their diet and load-up on fat-free foods or follow one of the many low carbohydrate diet books that line the shelves of bookstores everywhere!

In this article you will finally discover the truth about low carb diet plans, what they are, how they work, who (if anyone) they are suitable for, what some of their drawbacks are, and if they are necessary to help support your weight-loss efforts!

Low Carbohydrate Diets and Weight Loss

What are low carbohydrate diets?

The typical definition of low carbohydrate diets is a diet that contains a lower proportion of carbohydrates relative to conventional diets. This means that since conventional diets contain around 55-60% of its calories coming from carbohydrates, any diet that contains less than this amount is considered to be a low carbohydrate diet.

Even the 'Zone Diet', which suggests a macronutrient ratio of 40:30:30 (carbohydrate: protein: fat) is often considered to be a low carbohydrate diet.

Other people define low carb diet plans as being a diet that contains less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day, which even for some people is too high!

Nevertheless, most people agree that a diet containing 50 grams of carbohydrates or less per day is a low carb diet (the Atkins Diet's Induction Phase recommends 20 grams of net carbs per day).

How do low carbohydrate diets work?

Low carb diet plans may help people lose weight through several mechanisms. Firstly, by reducing your carbohydrate intake significantly you also reduce the amount of glycogen stored in your body.

Most people store around 400 grams of glycogen in their muscles and around 100 grams in their liver. Furthermore, for every gram of glycogen stored, an additional 2-3 grams of water is stored with it. Therefore, a reduction in stored glycogen and water means that a loss of up to 2 kilograms may also occur.

Also, low carb diet plans reduce insulin secretion from the pancreas due to the low blood sugar levels it promotes. Since insulin is a fat-storage hormone and also stops the body from mobilising and utilising fat as a fuel source, a reduction of insulin may assist the body in burning more fat. It is important to note that a reduced insulin secretion may also be achieved by simply being aware of your carbohydrate sources.

Low Carbohydrate Diets

By reducing your carbohydrate intake you tend to have more fat and protein in your diet. Since protein and to a lesser extent, fat, have far greater satiating effects compared to carbohydrate, you will feel much more satisfied after your meals.

By following the right type of low carb diet plans means that you will be consuming more of the low-density carbohydrate sources. Here's a list of low carbohydrate foods: broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, capsicum, cucumber, carrots, onions, tomatoes, etc. These foods are very low in carbohydrate but high in fibre, which means they also help you feel full after a meal as well as providing a range of health benefits.

What are the major
drawbacks of following low carb diet plans?

Since foods containing carbohydrates are everywhere, following a low carbohydrate diet can be quite difficult because it limits the number of foods you can choose from.

Since the number of foods is limited, it is difficult to make low carb diet plans a long-term, sustainable approach to nutrition.

A low carb diet requires more preparation simply because fewer foods are available from cafes, lunch bars and delis. As a result, this makes following a low carbohydrate diet less accessible compared to a conventional diet.

Who, if anyone, are
low carbohydrate diets are suitable for?

It appears that low carbohydrate diets are beneficial for certain groups of people. These groups include:
  • Diabetics or pre-diabetics
  • Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • People who are sedentary
  • The first two groups, diabetics/ pre-diabetics and women with PCOS are both insulin resistant. This means that the insulin receptors on their body's cell membranes are resistant to the action of insulin.

    This means that when they eat high-carbohydrate foods their blood sugar rises, resulting in a corresponding insulin release. Then, when they insulin tries to shuttle the carbohydrate into the cells, which occurs under normal circumstances, it is unable to do so because the cell are resistant to its action. A low carbohydrate diet can help to reverse this situation.

    Not only should people who are insulin resistant follow a low carbohydrate diet, but they should also use glucose disposal agents (GDAs). These assist the body by 'opening up' the insulin receptors on body cells and making them more sensitive to insulin.

    BCN's MultiSpice contains cinnamon, ginger and turmeric, which have all been shown in clinical research to act as glucose disposal agents and help lower blood sugar levels.

    People who are sedentary should also limit their carbohydrate intake simply because their bodies don't need much fuel. Since the body has a limited storage capacity for carbohydrate (as mentioned earlier), if a substantial amount of carbohydrate is consumed it is not likely to be burnt up and therefore will be stored as bodyfat.

    Do you need to follow a low carbohydrate diet?

    If your goal is to lose bodyfat and you don't fall into one of the above-mentioned categories, then it is not necessary to follow a low carb diet.

    However, it is important to be aware of your sources of carbohydrates (in order to keep insulin low) and follow a reduced-carb diet instead.

    For example, in a reduced-carb diet, which is more sustainable for most people, you should aim to have 1-2 serves of the high-density carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice cereals, etc.) each day; 2-3 serves of the medium-density carbohydrates (potatoes, pumpkin, peas, corn, milk, yoghurt, fruit, etc.) each day; and 4-6 serves of the low-density carbohydrates (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, etc.) each day.

    For a more complete list of low carbohydrate foods, get as copy of 'Look Good, Feel Great!'

    By consuming carbs as suggested above you will be having around 100 grams of carbohydrates a day. This is more than enough for the majority of people, is a long-term, sustainable approach to nutrition, and can still help you lose weight without having to follow a low carb diet.

    In order to assist your weight-loss efforts even further you may want to consider using a prebiotic fibre, such arabinogalactans, which is contained in BCN's Gastro Forte AG or guar gum and pectin, which are both contained in BCN's DigestEZE. These soluble fibres slow down the absorption of carbohydrates from any meals consumed as well as contributing to satiety (a feeling of fullness) themselves.

    Finally, when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, the 'Golden Rule' is to consume less energy (calories) each day than you burn off. Even though there are definite benefits to reducing your carbohydrate intake slightly to assist your weight-loss efforts, you still need to be mindful of your overall caloric intake.

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